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Top 52 Cybersecurity Interview Questions and Answers

The 52 most frequently asked cybersecurity interview questions for freshers and experienced employees.

Top 52 Cybersecurity Interview Questions and Answers
  • PublishedAugust 28, 2022

Cyberattacks have become a major global threat, and the need for cybersecurity experts to aid companies in fighting cyber warfare is slowly paving a path for the next generation of geniuses. Industries like finance, information technology, banking, and Insurance companies are more vulnerable to hacker groups and are actively recruiting cybersecurity professionals.

According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics Information Security Analyst’s Outlook, the careers in cybersecurity will grow to 31% through 2029, which is relatively seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.

However, the growing demand for cyber security professionals also means tougher competition. Interestingly, most organizations ask recurring questions that candidates can prepare for. To simplify the task, The Cyber Express has curated 52 cybersecurity questions that every job-seeker should know before appearing for an interview.

Top 52 cybersecurity interview questions to know

Regardless of the role, you are applying for or the company you plan to join, some questions stay the same. These are the fundamentals that every cybersecurity professional should know during the interview.

  1. What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the study and practice of protecting data, servers, and hardware on a network of computers. It also refers to the protection of data against unauthorized access.

  1. What is cryptography?

Cryptography refers to transmitting data encoded so that the information can be shared only with its actual receivers and not with some unauthorized third parties.

  1. Define risk, threat, and vulnerability?
  • Risk refers to the probability of threat and potential damage. The term is used when a TA (Threat Actor) exploits a vulnerability.
  • Threat refers to any person, organization, or entity with the potential to cause harm to an organization.
  • Vulnerability refers to a weak spot in a system or network. It is also used to describe the device/network possibility of making the threat more detrimental.
  1. What is Cross-Site Scripting?

Popularly known as a client-side injection attack, Cross-Site Scripting is a practice of executing scripts on a user’s web browser by injecting malicious code. Various methods can be employed to prevent Cross-Site Scripting, including Using Anti-XSS services/tools, using XSS HTML Filter, and encoding special characters.

  1. What are IDS and IPS?

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) detect intrusions but cannot prevent them from happening. It is a detection and monitoring system that requires human intervention and an additional system to look at the results.

An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) detects and prevents invasions of networks and computers. It is a control system that updates regularly and catches the latest threats using a string of available data.

  1. What is a Botnet?

A Botnet is usually a group of internet-connected devices that are affected or compromised by malware. It is a popular TA (Threat Actor) and is known to be able to steal data, spam users with messages, perform cyber attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS attack), and more.

  1. What is a CIA triad?

A CIA (confidentiality, integrity, and availability) triad is a security model/protocol to handle policies for cybersecurity within an organization.

  1. What is the difference between hashing and encryption?

Hashing and encryption both provide methods to keep sensitive data safe. They are used to convert easily readable data into an unreadable format, which can be accessed after decrypting only. The only significant difference between the two is that hashed data cannot be processed back to the original data. In contrast, encrypted data can be decrypted to return to the original data.

  1. What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that protects devices and user data while accessing them. It is a widely popular security measure employed by smartphone companies and websites.

  1. What is the use of a firewall?

A firewall is a security mechanism used to regulate and track network traffic. It secures unauthorized access from a private network and safeguards the system/network from malware and viruses.

  1. What is a vulnerability assessment?

Vulnerability assessment is the process of defining, identifying, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in software, network infrastructure, applications, and other systems that provide the company with the necessary data to address the faults.

  1. What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing is referred to as ethical hacking in cybersecurity. This method tests a network, system, application, etc., to find weaknesses that attackers could exploit.

13. What are stored XSS attacks?

Attacks using injected scripts that are persistently saved on the target servers are known as stored XSS attacks. The server returns the malicious script when the victim requests the saved data.

  1. What are reflected XSS Attacks?

Reflected XSS attacks occur when the user first sends the request before the attack begins to operate on the victim’s browser and returns to the user who sent the request.

  1. What is a three-way handshake process?

In TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) networks, a three-way handshake procedure is used to reliably transmit data between the host and the client. A three-way handshake occurs when the server and client exchange three segments — SYN, SYN + ACK, and ACK.

  1. What is a Brute Force Attack?

Application programs use brute force attacks, which involve trial and error, rather than intellectual tactics, to decode encrypted data, such as data encryption keys or passwords. It’s a technique for finding the correct qualifications by repeatedly putting each approach to the test.

17. What is a data leak?

Illegal data transmission to an outside individual or group within an organization is a data leak or data breach.

  1. What is Traceroute?

A Traceroute is a network diagnostic tool explicitly designed to track the pathway of an IP network. It follows the IP network from its source to its destination and records data packet movements while reaching the correct destination.

  1. What is a CSRF attack?

Cross-site Request Forgery, often known as CSRF, occurs when an attacker deceives a victim into acting on their behalf.

  1. What is DNS monitoring?

DNS permits access to websites with a specific, memorable domain name rather than a numbered IP address. DNS monitoring is required to ensure traffic is sent to the correct website, service, and devices.

  1. What is salting?

Salting is an additional stage in the hashing process that gives passwords an extra value that changes the hash value created. Salting helps safeguard passwords in storage.

  1. What is ‘Man-in-the-Middle Attack’?

A man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attack involves the perpetrator discreetly intercepting and relaying messages between two parties who believe they are speaking directly to one another.

  1. What is SSL, and why is it used?

Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is a technology that ensures more secure communication between two or more parties online.

  1. What is HTTPS?

Combining HTTP and SSL, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) offers encryption for a safer browsing experience.

  1. What are the different types of hackers?

There are three types of hackers — black hat, white hat, and gray hat. These individuals work on different models and intents. While some specialize in protecting a company’s assets, others might be involved in stealing data from organizations. Here is a quick comparison between them:

  • Black hat hackers are known for infiltrating organizations and stealing data for political and financial gains. These individuals work as solo hackers or groups and aim at organizations intending to steal information.
  • White-hat hackers are often referred to as ethical hackers. These cybersecurity professionals know about ethical hacking tools, approaches, and tactics for protecting organizational data.
  • A gray hat hacker is almost like a black hat hacker, but they occasionally hack into systems while lacking the malicious intent of a “black hat hacker.”
  1. Define cognitive security?

Cognitive security is explicitly utilized for spotting risks and safeguarding physical and digital systems in an organizational structure. Self-learning security systems resemble the human brain using data mining, natural language processing, and pattern recognition.

  1. What is phishing?

Phishing is the vicious practice of posing as an authorized party to steal sensitive data like passwords and usernames using emails, texts, pop-up notifications, and more.

  1. What is SQL injection?

SQL Injection (SQLi) is a cyberattack where a code is injected into a system/database to execute malicious SQL commands to control the database server underlying a web application. These attacks are mostly initiated with the intent to access, edit, and delete unauthorized data.

  1. What is a DDOS attack?

A distributed denial-of-service attack, often known as a DDOS, is a malicious attempt to interfere with network traffic by flooding a server with many requests and blocking it from responding correctly.

  1. What is compliance in cybersecurity?

In the most basic sense, compliance refers to adhering to a set of rules established by a group, institution, or third-party security partner.

  1. What is Patch Management?

Patch management is used to continuously update different systems within a network and defend them against malware and hacking attempts. Many enterprise patch management technologies operate by installing or deploying agents on a target computer.

  1. What is System hardening?

System hardening generally refers to a collection of tools and approaches for managing vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems, applications, firmware, and other areas.

System hardening reduces security risks by limiting potential assaults and shrinking the surface damage.

  1. What is a cybersecurity risk assessment?

The term “cybersecurity risk assessment” refers to the process of identifying information assets that are vulnerable to cyber attacks (such as customer data, hardware, laptops, etc.) and evaluating potential threats to those assets. Across all organizations, it is primarily used to detect, assess, and prioritize risks.

  1. What is the use of Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)?

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is employed to translate IP network addresses to physical addresses. It converts addresses from 32 to 48 bits and the other way around.

  1. What is Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)?

The Microsoft RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) protocol was created to secure and encrypt application data transfers between client devices, users, and a virtual network server. It enables administrators to assess and address problems faced by specific subscribers from a distance.

  1. What is Diffie Hellman?

Diffie-Helman is an exchange protocol with a single shared key that both parties can use to encrypt and decrypt messages between them.

  1. What is RSA?

Asymmetric key encryption using two distinct keys is known as RSA. Anyone can use the public key to encrypt data, which is then decrypted using a separate private key.

  1. What is Forward Secrecy?

Specific key agreement protocols have a forward secrecy feature that ensures that even if the server’s private key is compromised, the session keys won’t be.

  1. What is Active Reconnaissance?

In an active reconnaissance computer attack, an intruder interacts with the target system to gather information about potential vulnerabilities. Attackers typically utilize port scanning to find weak ports, after which they can take advantage of services.

  1. What is security misconfiguration?

If an application, network, or device is inaccurately configured or vulnerable to attack because of an unsecured configuration choice, there may be a security misconfiguration. Simple solutions include leaving the default username and password alone or contacting the system administrator.

  1. What is a Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody is the probability that specific information/data has been delivered as evidence in its original form and has not been altered. It is a chronological documentation/paper trail that accurately reflects evidence management in a court of law.

  1. What is Port Scanning?

Port Scanning is a method for finding open ports and services on a particular host. Hackers find information for nefarious purposes by using port scanning techniques.

43. What is the difference between HIDS and NIDS?

HIDS and NIDS are network security systems that protect computers against malware, spyware, and other computer viruses. Though they both serve the same purpose of protecting the system, the main difference between the two is what approach they use. For example, HIDS is related to a single system, and it only prioritizes threats related to the host system/computer. In comparison, NIDS looks over the entire network system and examines all the activities and traffic in the network.

  1. What is a VPN?

A virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technique for establishing secure and encrypted connections over networks. It provides a protective shield against tampering, spying, and censorship.

  1. Explain WAF

Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a cybersecurity technique that filters incoming and outgoing traffic between web and internet applications.

46. What is network sniffing?

Network sniffing is used to analyze data packets traveling over a network. It can fetch sensitive data, monitor data packages over the network, and more. To achieve this, users can implement specialized software programs or hardware equipment.

47. What is SSH?

A utility suite called Secure Socket Shell (SSH) or Secure Shell offers a secure way for System administrators to access data on a network.

48. What is a black box and white box testing?

Black box and white box testing are two approaches used by testers to inspect and verify the infrastructure of a system, network, and device. The only noticeable difference between the two is that black box testing is used when the program code is hidden, and white box testing is used when the tester knows the internal structure and code.

49. What is Exfiltration?

The unauthorized transfer of data from a computer system is known as data exfiltration. Anyone with physical access to a computer can perform this communication manually.

50. What is IGMP?

A communication system called Internet Group Management Protocol, or IGMP, is utilized in game and video streaming. It makes packet sending easier for routers and other communication equipment.

51. What are the types of symmetric encryption algorithms?

  • RCx
  • Blowfish
  • Rijndael (AES)
  • DES

52. What is a buffer overflow attack?

A process that tries to write extra data to a fixed-length memory block is vulnerable to a buffer overflow attack.

Written By
Ashish Khaitan

Ashish is a technical writer at The Cyber Express. He adores writing about the latest technologies and covering the latest cybersecurity events. In his free time, he likes to play horror and open-world video games.